QB throws for three TDs, and proves a point

Regina Leader-Post - - SPORTS - ROB VANSTONE rvan­stone@post­media.com twit­ter.com/rob­van­stone

Friday’s CFL game in­cluded a Bridge to the past.

On an evening in which the 2017 Cana­dian Foot­ball Hall of Fame en­shrines were in­tro­duced at Tim Hor­tons Field, the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers started a Cana­dian-born quar­ter­back — Brandon Bridge — for the first time since the tail end of the 1977 sea­son.

Bridge threw three touch­down passes on Friday as the Roughrid­ers de­feated the host Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats 27-19.

At 3:03 of the sec­ond quar­ter, Bridge be­came the first home­grown quar­ter­back to throw a touch­down pass in a start­ing role with Saskatchewan since Oct. 30, 1977, when Eric Guthrie fired a 35-yarder to Joey Wal­ters in a 38-28 vic­tory over Hamil­ton at Tay­lor Field. (The Van­cou­ver­born Guthrie also started a week later, when the Rid­ers lost a

38-0 squeaker in Edmonton.)

The year be­fore, Si­mon Fraser Univer­sity prod­uct Dave Syme had thrown a TD pass to Rhett Daw­son in re­lief of Penn­syl­va­nia-born Ron Lan­caster (who was then clas­si­fied as a nat­u­ral­ized Cana­dian and there­fore played as a non-im­port) as the Roughrid­ers cruised to a 34-3 vic­tory over the vis­it­ing Toronto Arg­onauts on Oct. 10, 1976.

Syme’s touch­down pass was the Roughrid­ers’ first by a prod­uct of the Cana­dian de­vel­op­men­tal sys­tem since 1958, when Ron Adam threw for three ma­jors over the course of the sea­son.

Adam, who was born on the Saskatchewan side of Lloy­d­min­ster, later resided in York­ton and Saska­toon. He played ju­nior foot­ball for the Saska­toon Hill­tops be­fore de­but­ing with the Roughrid­ers in 1954.

Also a de­fen­sive back, Adam threw six touch­down passes for the Roughrid­ers over a seven-sea­son span. His three TD passes in 1958 tied him with Ken Pre­ston (1946) for the most in a sin­gle sea­son by a Cana­di­an­born pivot in Rid­ers his­tory.

Bridge broke that club record Friday night and shat­tered a stereo­type in the process.

Yes, a Cana­dian can play quar­ter­back — and suc­cess­fully so — in the Cana­dian Foot­ball League.

This in spite of a league rule that is un­ac­cept­ably dis­crim­i­na­tory to Cana­di­ans.

CFL ros­ter reg­u­la­tions al­low for teams to dress three quar­ter­backs of any na­tion­al­ity. Those spots, of course, are al­most al­ways oc­cu­pied by Amer­i­cans.

Credit to Bridge for mak­ing it on to a ros­ter, let alone start­ing, de­spite the ra­tio sit­u­a­tion.

It is ridicu­lous, re­ally. Roughrid­ers head coach and gen­eral man­ager Chris Jones opted to start a Cana­dian at foot­ball’s most im­por­tant po­si­tion and did not de­rive any ra­tio-re­lated ben­e­fits from do­ing so.

How­ever, there were clear ben­e­fits to de­ploy­ing Bridge, given the man­ner in which he per­formed in re­lief of Kevin Glenn (who sat out with a bruised right hand).

The 25-year-old Bridge demon­strated poise and a strong arm while com­plet­ing 21 of 31 passes for 231 yards, with­out an in­ter­cep­tion.

The rap on Bridge used to per­tain to ac­cu­racy, or lack thereof.

A grad­u­ate of the South Alabama Jaguars, Bridge com­pleted only 50.9 per cent of his passes as a col­le­gian. There were also con­cerns about his me­chan­ics, con­sid­er­ing that his throw­ing mo­tion is rather un­ortho­dox.

Af­ter Friday’s game, Bridge boasted CFL ca­reer stats of 70 com­ple­tions in 101 at­tempts — a 69.3-per-cent ac­cu­racy rate — for 871 yards, with eight touch­down passes and two in­ter­cep­tions. His quar­ter­back rat­ing: An eye-pop­ping 113.9.

Most im­por­tantly, the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder helped Saskatchewan im­prove its record to 6-5. The Roughrid­ers had not been above .500 since the tail end of the 2014 cam­paign.

Con­sid­er­ing the larger equa­tion, it wasn’t sim­ply a vic­tory for the Roughrid­ers, but for every Cana­dian who plays quar­ter­back or as­pires to do so.

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